Luke 2:1, “1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”
- The life of Jesus is surrounded in culture and community.
- Luke doesn’t come from a religious background. Luke didn’t grow up reading the Bible, Luke didn’t grow up going to church, and Luke didn’t walk with Jesus personally.
- If you look at Luke 1, verses 1-4 we see Luke describe himself as an investigative reporter who is tracking down eyewitness testimony from men and women who walked with Jesus, saw Jesus, touched Jesus, and corroborating their story. Luke wants to determine if this life of Jesus is true.
When you are reading the Gospel of Luke you are reading from someone who is concerned with the details and facts. You are reading someone who has asked the hard questions, “Are these claims about Jesus true?” Did Jesus really perform miracles? Is Jesus really God in the flesh? “ You are reading someone who is wanting to know, “Is the life of Jesus true?”
Proverbs 3:1-2, “1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments. 2 For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”
Proverbs 3:3-4, ”3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”
Proverbs 3:5-6, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:7-8, “7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:9-10, “9 Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Ecclesiastes 3:9-10, “9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.”
- In verse 9 Solomon asks, “What’s the profit?” In verses 1-8 there are pretty words made into a song in 1965 by the Byrds, “To everything (turn, turn, turn). There is a season (turn, turn, turn). But, Solomon didn’t mean for verses 1-8 to be pretty.
- Solomon is making an observation on the repetitive cycle of life, which never seems to make any progress. There is a time to live, a time to die, a time to laugh a time to mourn, a time for war and a time for peace. The same old thing, “Another day, another dollar.”
- In verse 10, “People have tasks to occupy themselves” (Do you see that phrase in verse 10?) like going to work, mowing the yard, changing diapers, making your bed, and every day you wake up and do these same tasks over and over.
- At first those tasks are exciting when we get a new shirt, a new mower, a new truck, a new relationship, but eventually we do those tasks at 30, 60, 100, 500, 1000 times, and eventually the newness starts to wear off, and human begins start to ask, “What’s the point?”
Galatians 6:1, “1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
- Galatians is written by the Apostle Paul to a region of churches in Galatia, modern day Turkey, and in verse 1 you see the phrase, “Restore one another in a spirit of gentleness.”
- The word, “restore” in the original language means to “equip.” Write that in your notes, “The word restore means to equip.”
- This isn’t a casual word. It is an “active” word “to equip by exposing rips and tears in our relationships with one another.” It is to “equip so that we are helping to mend the brokenness of our relationship with Jesus and with one another back together.”
- This is why the Apostle Paul uses the word “caught” in verse 1 because the word “caught” means to be “overtaken by sin” or “ensnared by sin.”
Galatians 6:2-5, “2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.”
2 Corinthians 8:1-2, “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”
- The first and second letter to the Corinthians is a real letter to real people from the Apostle Paul, and in verses 1 and 2 the Apostle Paul is speaking to the Corinthian church about the local church in Macedonia (Two churches in modern day Greece).
- The Apostle Paul describes the Macedonian church as a people who are going through a “great ordeal of affliction” vs. 2, and yet they are “overflowing in the wealth of their liberality.”
- The word “liberality” means generous, which means the Macedonians are going through distress, challenges, sick kids, job loss, crazy politics, swings in the stock market, in deep poverty, and yet the Macedonians are generous with money!
2 Corinthians 8:3-5, “3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, 5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
- Do you see that in verses 3 and 4? In verse 3 they are giving according to their ability, and beyond their ability, and then at the end of verse 3 we see they are giving of their own accord.
- Do you see that word at the end of verse 3? The word, “accord” means “by one’s own choice.” It means the Macedonians weren’t giving generously in their poverty because they saw a sad commercial, or because they felt guilty, or because they are trying to gain favor from God, or because someone put up a thermometer on stage with sad faces.
- How did the Macedonians avoid the temptation to horde? How did the Macedonians avoid getting swept away on some cool sandals, or a new camel? Look at the end of verse 5. Do you see the answer? Verse 5 says, “But, they first gave themselves to the Lord.”
Remember when you were young and adults would always ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When you were in elementary school you said things like firefighter, professional athlete, rock star, etc. But, as you got older your answers matured to things like teacher, lawyer, author, and for many of us, as we began to work in those careers we have found ourselves losing some optimism about life.
Eventually we learned we weren’t that great of an athlete; and for the majority of us we learned that although we were able to acquire a job as we got older, we also learned about many other areas of our life where we were deficient; health, relationships, finances, friendships, intellect, and over time we started to lose some optimism about life. It happens to all of us. If it hasn’t, just wait.
The yearly rhythms outlined in this book have been established to help us re-capture some youthful optimism about life. It is a chance to return to that aged old question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” It’s not too late. There are still so many new opportunities in front of us, but for us to make the most of those opportunities then we must know what we are trying to accomplish in life.
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Revelation 22:6-7, “6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. 7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- In verses 1-5 we see the final description of what we talked about last Sunday, new heaven and new earth, that is coming, and at this point it would be easy to think, “Well, that about wraps it up!”
- But, in verse 7 we see the reminder, “Jesus is coming quickly.” It is a reminder of urgency. The urgency is repeated in verse 12, “Behold, I am coming quickly” and again in verse 20, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”
- The word “quickly” in the original language means “Jesus is coming as soon as possible” and it would be easy for us to read Revelation 22 and think to ourselves, “How come Jesus hasn’t returned yet?” What is the delay? In 2 Peter 3 the Apostle Peter responded to the same people asking the same question: